Spent about as much time driving to Briones as I did hiking yesterday; didn’t get out of the house till after lunchtime so I figured I’d go to the most accessible trailhead and see what turned up.
Conclusion: The trailhead on Pleasant Hill Road in the park’s southeast corner (just north of Highway 24 and a few miles west of I680) is a) easy to find; b) free to park in; c) close to civilization; d) miles from the park’s interior; perhaps the least interesting to hardcore hikers.
Of course this merely reflects the Bay Area’s embarrassment of hiking riches. There’s a hike along Lafayette Ridge from this trailhead that’s scenic, not too terribly steep and bursting with blooms every spring.
Here’s a Google map of the area:
Zoom out and you’ll see the lion’s share of the 8,000-plus acres at Briones is north and west of here.
One interesting tidbit I discovered: The Las Trampas to Briones Regional Trail connects near here, and the coast-to-coast American Discovery Trail goes right through Briones, starting at Lafayette Ridge on the east.
From Walnut Creek the ADT follows a series of trails which begin along the Contra Costa Canal, ascend to Lafayette Ridge, descend from the ridge into Homestead Valley, skirt the shorelines of the Briones and San Pablo Reservoirs and ascend to Inspiration Point. From Inspiration Point the ADT follows trails in the east bay hills through Tilden Regional Park and descends down Strawberry Canyon to the University of California campus in Berkeley and then on through the city streets of Berkeley and Oakland to Jack London Square on the waterfront. Here a ferry is boarded for a ride across San Francisco Bay to the Ferry Building on the Embarcadero in San Francisco. The ADT follows the Embarcadero, other bayside streets, the Golden Gate Promenade, and a pedestrian trail to reach the south end of the Golden Gate Bridge while passing through Fisherman’s Wharf, Fort Mason, and the Presidio (a former elite U. S. Army base.)
No point belaboring a three-mile hike; let’s see some pictures:
Some flowering weeds near the trail head.
Green hills on the way up to Lafayette Ridge. Have to admit this scenery would charm the pants off a flatlander.
Advantage to afternoon hiking: The poppies are out in force. That’s Mount Diablo in the background.
My favorite of the day.
Some monkey flowers along a stretch of the Las Trampas-to-Briones Trail. This is a nice little detour — shady most of the way and very little-traveled — but it ends at a street and you have to turn back. Still, it was my favorite part of yesterday’s hike.
Good ol’ Blue-Eyed Grass.
These Bermuda buttercups are non-native, which means we are supposed to despise them, but they don’t seem to be causing much trouble.
My Everytrail page on this hike has the GPS plot, if you’re interested.
A bunch more Briones links are at this preview post I did last week.
I’m thinking I may explore more of Briones next weekend. It’s a damn shame there’s no backpacking allowed here; it’d take a few days to see all the trails.